Friday, April 23, 2010

Durham Bulls 5, Gwinnett Braves 4

[Via email from Matt DeMargel of the Durham Bulls.]

Durham, NC - The Bulls won their eighth straight game, this time in comeback fashion as they downed the Gwinnett Braves 5-4 Friday night. Jeremy Hellickson had his worst start in Triple-A, but the offense would not be denied as they scored four runs over the final three innings to climb on top before Joaquin Benoit closed the door in the ninth. Justin Ruggiano had big hits in the seventh and eighth innings, as the Bulls improve to 13-3 on the season.

Hellickson struggled to locate his fastball, allowing nine hits and three earned runs in just 3.2 innings while walking three and striking out one. Brian Baker came on in relief for the Bulls, tossing 4.1 innings allowing just one earned run on a solo blast to left by Mitch Jones.

The Bulls offense got on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning against Braves right hander James Parr. Dan Johnson laced a one out single to right-center and Joe Dillon followed with another to put runners on first and second. One batter later, Ryan Shealy brought home his 11th RBI of the season with a two-out, RBI double into left field scoring Johnson and making the score 3-1.

After Jones’ homer put Gwinnett up 4-1 heading into the seventh, the Bulls bats began to come alive as they posted three in the innings to tie the score. Braves righty Scott Proctor breezed through the first two batters, but the next six batters all reached base. Justin Ruggiano blasted a two-run homer deep over the center field wall to bring them within one. After a single, a walk and another single loaded the bases, Chris Richard tied the game with an RBI single to right field. Dan Johnson tried to give them the lead and score from second on the play, but was gunned down at the dish to keep the game tied at four.

The eighth inning was no better for Proctor, who allowed a one-out single by Alvin Colina and a single by Elliot Johnson one batter later to put men on first and second with two outs. Gwinnett brought in Cristhian Martinez out of the bullpen, but Ruggiano greeted him with a double on his first pitch to bring across Colina with the go-ahead run.

Benoit came on in the ninth inning, allowing a two-out single to Matt Young before striking out Gregor Blanco to end the game and preserve the Bulls longest winning streak since 2004.

The two teams continue their series tomorrow as LHP Heath Phillips (1-0, 2.55) takes the mound against RHP Chris Resop (0-1, 0.61) for the G-Braves. Game time is set for 5:05 p.m.

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